Hancock Watch Updates August 2004



August 4, 2004 PRESS RELEASE


*Boycott removed again October 29, 2004, with announcement by Hancock of Cores and Links proposal.

Jack River Cool Temperate Rainforest under threat of extinction?

Friends of the Earth Melbourne Melbourne today re-launched the boycott on John Hancock Financial Services. The boycott had been removed in February 2004, when Hancock subsidiary Hancock Victorian Plantations (HVP) achieved third party certification through the reputable Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). As members of FSC, Friends of the Earth Australia supported the FSC process occurring throughout Australia, as a means of improving management in native forests and plantations.

The boycott has been re-instated because Hancock and HVP subsidiary, Grand Ridge Plantations Pty Ltd, recently announced that they would soon be logging High Conservation Value forests located in the Strzelecki Ranges, located 150km south east of Melbourne. Areas to be logged are located within the boundaries of the Cores and Links Proposal as determined by the Strzelecki Working Group in 2002.

Friends of the Earth spokesperson Anthony Amis said; "The areas to be logged comprise of wet forest, a depleted Ecological Vegetation Class, within buffer areas of remnant Cool Temperate Rainforest. Cool Temperate Rainforest is very rare on mainland Australia. Its' biggest threats are fire, logging and the disease Myrtle Wilt. Logging within contentious catchments will increase the risks associated with fire and Myrtle Wilt. Strzelecki Rainforest is facing extinction and is argueably the most threatened rainforest community on mainland Australia".

Mr Amis added; "The Strzelecki Working Group consisted of South Gippsland Shire, Wellington Shire, Latrobe City, Hancock Victorian Plantations, Grand Ridge Plantations and local conservation groups. The Cores and Links proposal also required State Government support. It would appear however that the State Government have wiped their hands clean of the Strzeleckis. The Bracks Government are unprepared to compensate Hancock by buying back contentious forest areas from the company. The Bracks Government have sat on their hands and done nothing. It's a disgrace that cool temperate rainforest continues to be threatened by the woodchip industry".

Hancock decided to put the Cores and Links areas under a voluntary moratorium for 2 years. That moratorium has now ceased and Hancock have decided to log many of these areas. "It would appear that Hancock senior management in Gippsland and Melbourne are not interested in supporting the principles of FSC. FSC is supposed to work with an element of trust between parties. That trust just isn't there. It is our opinion that Hancock's heart isn't in it. Some management figures in the company appear to be openly hostile to the whole idea of FSC" added Mr Amis.

"It would also appear to us that key management in Gippsland are acting in such a poor fashion because they may want to deliberately lose the certification. We understand that they feel that there would be less pressure on them if the certification was terminated. If this is the case then the reputation of John Hancock Financial Services will be tarnished internationally. It will be a major embarrassment for the company if Australia's first company to attain FSC loses that certification" added Mr Amis.

"Friends of the Earth Australia will be writing to the FSC, as a member group, saying that if FSC has any credibility it will remove the certificate awarded to Hancock Victorian Plantations, if the Cores and Links areas are logged" concluded Mr Amis.

August 2004 Cores and Links Updates

The core areas and habitat links were identified by Biosis Research in November 2001 in the report "Strzelecki Ranges Biodiversity Study". The core and link areas were deemed to be of High Conservation Significance. Core areas included;

"Gunyah Gunyah, Jack River, College Creek, Tarra-Bulga, Upper Merriman Creek" as core areas.

"Albert River link, Ryton link and Upper Middle Creek link" as link areas.

About 2200 hectares of hardwood and 90 hectares of softwood occurred within the Cores and Links. Custodial lands comprised of almost 9000 hectares, meaning that about 20% of the Cores and Links was previously planted. It is this 20% that conservationists fear Hancock intend to log.

Hancock intend to log 37.7 hectares of the link areas and 39.15 hectares of the core areas in the next year. Local conservationists fear that this will be the 'thin edge of the wedge', whereby Hancock will continue to 'chip away' at the best of the remaining Strzelecki forests over the next 10 years.


1. August 2004: Essential koala habitat in the Ryton Link. This photo shows intended logging area also includes non-planted Mountain Grey Gum. This photo was taken off Mountain Grey Gum Track in the Morwell River catchment. Koala scats were abundant at this site. Planned coupes are in close vicinity to cool temperate rainforest.

2. August 2004: Merrimans Creek - Area to be logged is located on the Duffs Sawmill Heritage Trail inside the Merrimans Core area. A site of heritage and ecological importance value. The site also lays adjacent to Tarra Bulga National Park.

3. August 2004: Jack River catchment. This photo reveals area to be logged near corner of Grand Ridge Road and O'Callaghan's Track. High quality habitat value in the College Creek core.


4. August 2004: College creek core area just off the Grand Ridge Road.

5. August 2004: College Creek core area just off the Grand Ridge Road in the Morwell River East Branch.

Other August 2004 Updates

August 2004: Turtons Creek catchment near Anyos Road. Note lack of buffers protecting tributary in this recently logged pine plantation. see here for further information.

August 2004: Turtons Creek catchment near Anyos Road. Note lack of buffers protecting tributary in this recently logged pine plantation. see here for further information.

August 2004: Strzelecki Ranges. Midland Highway at Rytons Junction. Hancock has recently logged this heritage site causing outrage amongst local environmentalists.

May 2004: Log dump consisting mainly of indigenous vegetation in ex state run pine plantation LEGL93-123. Dump located at the top of a tributary of Traralgon Creek.

May 2004: The remains of the burning log dumps (seen in photo above) located at the top of a drainage line of Traralgon Creek.

March 2004: Removal of native vegetation within plantation boundary - location at the head of gully (see photos above).

March 2004: Over 80 trees were logged in this plantation during March 2004 and then stockpiled and torched (see photos above).

1990 aerial photograph showing approximate plantation boundaries and water courses. The plantations within the red lines show plantations which were managed by the Victorian Plantations Corporation up until the Hancock takeover of VPC in October 1998. Most of the surrounding land was privately owned by Australian Paper Plantations. Allotment 52B consisted of mainly pine, whilst allotments 48, 49C and 49B consist of high conservation value native forest, which is waiting to be covenanted. Drainage lines are marked in blue. Drainage lines flowing right (east), are in the Traralgon Creek catchment. Clearing of native vegetation and burning occurred in area marked orange. All tributaries of the Traralgon Creek come under the 8 point agreement between Friends of Gippsland Bush and Amcor. This agreement requires 50 metre buffers on tributaries of Traralgon Creek. Hancock is replanting within 5 metres in some places. The following eight photos were all taken within the area of the aerial photograph above.

May 2004: Strzelecki Ranges Bird Track which runs off Jeeralang North Road. Pushing debris and felling timber into tributary of Traralgon Creek adding to erosion problems.

May 2004: Total abuse of harvesting on permanent water course. Logs and sediment pushed into tributary of Traralgon Creek. Establishment of 50 metre buffers of indigenous vegetation is required as an agreed outcome of the 1997 8 point agreement between Friends of Gippsland Bush and Amcor.

May 2004: Drainage line trashed by Hancock Much of the riparian vegetation was recently killed by aerial application of Roundup and Brush-Off.

May 2004: Herb Rich Foothills which are an endangered Ecological Vegetation Class. This photo reveals removal of exclusion zones and subsequent spraying of regenerating eucalypts. Traralgon creek catchment LEGL93-123.

May 2004: Tunnel erosion in Jeeralang sandy loams. Traralgon creek catchment LEGL93-123.

May 2004: Traralgon creek catchment LEGL93-123. Removal of exclusion zones.

May 2004: Traralgon creek catchment LEGL93-123. Removal of exclusion zones.

May 2004: Shoddy roading practices increased sediment load into tributary of Traralgon Creek. This road borders LEGL93-123 & ex APP owned Allotment 52B Parish of Traralgon.

Slender tree fern in rainforest gully Jeeralang Creek West Branch.

Too steep to walk but not too steep to log. Recent pine clearfell in Jeeralang Creek catchment.

Logging track erosion Jeeralang Creek catchment.

Traralgon Creek catchment. Slumping road batter which blocked underlying culvert meaning inadequate drainage.

Traralgon Creek catchment. Logging carried out in wet weather leading to high erosion potential of soil.

Inappropriate culvert application, whereby water gains energy through a vertical drop from the outlet to the ground. As the erosion depth increases, the water flowing out of the culvert creates greater erosion problems as the amount of energy increases over time. This can lead to further gully and tunnel erosion as well as landslips. Road structures can also be undermined.